Students and Self-Advocates Gather at Georgia State Capitol for IPSE Advocacy Day

April 11, 2020

ATLANTA, GA - Inclusive education policies are necessary to assist Georgians with developmental disabilities in reaching their full potential. Inclusive postsecondary education (IPSE) programs provide students with intellectual and developmental disabilities access to education not otherwise available.

Currently there are nine IPSE programs in Georgia serving approximately 140 students. They are Albany Technical College's LEAP; Columbus State University's GOALS; East Georgia State College's CHOICE; Georgia Institute of Technology's EXCEL; Georgia State University's IDEAL; Georgia Southern's Eagle Academy; Kennesaw State University's Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth; University of Georgia's Destination Dawgs; and the University of West Georgia's Project WOLVES.

The Georgia Council for Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) hosts regular advocacy days at the Capitol during each legislative session. Attendees learn about policies affecting people with disabilities and join advocates from across the state in speaking with elected officials about these very important issues. The goal of each Advocacy Day is to educate Georgia's lawmakers about topics important to the disability community.

For the IPSE Adovcacy Day held earlier this year, GCDD partnered with the Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium (GaIPSEC) led by the Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) at Georgia State University. The Advocacy Day kicked off at 8 AM at the Central Presbyterian Church, across from the capitol, where leaders from many organizations train and teach advocates how to approach legislators, make a connection, and discuss the topics that are important to them. After the interactive training, advocates and leaders will head over to the Georgia state capitol to meet with legislators.

Spenser Norris, the Employment Coordinator at GSU's IDEAL program, reflects on the most recent advocacy day, noting that "Being at the State Capitol is such a thrilling and exhausting day! Students are excited to be somewhere official and beautiful; people of all sorts are packed in to talk about their respective issues." As for the students who are advocating for the policies that will directly affect them, "it's a wonderful adventure for students. Often, [they] can't believe that legislators are folks just like us, but in nicer suits."

In addition to Education, other Advocacy Day topics have included Employment, Transportation, Health laws, and the School-to-Prison pipeline.